An NCAA study has revealed that a worrying number of teens are participating in online sports betting, despite many living in states where it is either illegal or can only be undertaken by those over the age of 21. A survey of 18-to-22-year-olds found that 58% had gambled at least once in the past year, with almost 70% of those living on campus stating that they had participated. Additionally, just over 40% of sports bettors studying for degrees had placed bets on their own college teams. The NCAA has undertaken research into this issue so as to better understand the experiences of student-athletes and said that it has a strategy in place to address the “destructive power dynamics of legal sports betting”.
More states have recently legalized online sports betting, meaning hobbies that were once played face-to-face through bookmakers are now more accessible. Last year saw Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts and Ohio legalize sports betting, bringing the nation’s total to 33. Major players in this market include BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, FanDuel and WynnBet, with online sportsbooks seeing some of the most talked-about commercials in recent history. These ads have caught the attention of young people, with 56% of survey respondents saying they remember seeing an advert that encouraged betting recently. According to NCAA research, the majority of underage gamblers bet between $1 and $50 and lose between $10 and $300 per day. The situation is also reported to be particularly hazardous for black bettors, who may be losing more than $500 in a single day.
The NCAA is now planning another study for this fall, which will focus on the gambling habits of college student-athletes. They hope to better understand the effects of sports betting advertising on young people, with many universities now accommodating for gambling addictions as well as substance abuse. According to the Gaming Association of America, Americans bet a record $31.1 billion on sports online and in person in the first quarter of this year, bringing in a record $2.8 billion in revenue for sportsbooks. The NCAA hopes to combat the negative effects of this growing industry on young people by raising awareness and improving understanding of the risks associated with gambling addiction among NCAA athletes.